LEWISTON — If you think your morning commute has been tricky the past few days, put yourself in Rich Clark’s boots. Or on his pedals.

Clark, of Lewiston, climbs on his motorized bike each workday, in all weather, and rides it some 30 miles round trip to work at Hannaford supermarket in Turner.

He even made a trip Monday in a storm that dropped up to 14 inches on parts of Maine.

“It’s a mess out there,” Clark said in a text message to a reporter trying to track him down Monday.  

He didn’t have to make the commute that day, however, because he had a scheduled day off.  “Somehow, I got lucky,” said the 34-year-old Clark who was back on the bike Tuesday.

He said for the first seven or eight months he made the trip without the aid of the motor, which runs at a top speed of about 25 mph. But he said after pedaling 30 miles a day for a five-day workweek, his back was giving out and he bought the motor kit.


Clark has no license and no car. He said he intended to get a license, but even so, he wouldn’t be able to afford a car. Riding the bike is cheap and it helps him support his family because it gets him to work.

“I have two little boys,” he said. “It’s how I pay the bills.”

He makes the all-weather commute because he can earn more at the Turner Hannaford as a butcher than he could in town.

His former co-workers told him he wouldn’t be able to keep up the commute. “They said I would last two months and it’s been two years,” he said.

His bike, with the motor kit, cost about $300, plus the time it took to put it together and maintain, he said.

Clark and his live-in girlfriend would like to get married but they can’t afford it yet, he said. And yes, she worries about him when he’s out on the road.


“Especially if I stay late for work or something and don’t tell her,” he said. “If it’s more than an hour and a half from when I was supposed to leave, she starts to get worried, especially at night.”

But Clark said he drives carefully, and with studded tires on his bike, he does fine in the snow. “I just putter along; I’m not in a rush,” he said.

“The snow ain’t really a problem,” he said. The bigger problem is the cold and the wind chill.  

“I dress in layers, but when it’s zero or below out and you are going 20 mph, it’s pretty hard,” he said. “I’ve had some hairy trips. In downpours, hail and one time during a chain-lightning storm, I had to stop and seek shelter.”

He said motorists up and down Route 4 see him on a regular basis and locals along the way know him as,”The Legend of Route 4.” He finds the nickname amusing but said he’s just doing what he does to get by.

He said people often ask him if he gets stopped by police, but Clark said he drives carefully and not like some riders of motorized bikes he has seen in the downtown. “I watch wha4t they do and they are crazy,” he said.

The trip one way takes about 45 minutes to an hour, he said. On occasion, Clark will get a ride with someone, but he said most people don’t like to drive in bad weather.

“And if I need to work and it’s bad out, I still ride to work,” he said. “Probably nine out of 10 times, I’m riding.”


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